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How do I Find Primary Sources?: Locate Materials in the Library

How to Read an LC Call Number

Like most academic libraries, Kraemer Family Library uses Library of Congress (LC) call numbers to organize materials in its collection. If you do not know how to read LC call numbers or need a refresher, here are some resources to help you find books on the shelf in our library.

Find a Book on the Shelves

Library of Congress call numbers serve two very important functions. They allow you to easily find a book on the library shelves, AND they organize the collection by subject. When you locate a book on the shelves, look at the titles on either side of it. You will likely find other books on your topic!

To find the book, go to the correct section of the library, by checking the location of the book in the catalog. Most books are in the "Main Collection" which is on the 3rd floor.

Reading LC Call Numbers

  • N - describes the subject area: read in alphabetical order
  • 66 -  describes the topic: read as a whole number
  • B634- describes the author's last name: read in alphabetical order, then the number as a decimal
  • 1999  - date of publication: read in chronological order

How to Read a Call Number Video

If you are still having trouble figuring out call numbers and how items are organized on the shelves in the library, take a look at this video from the University of Arkansas.

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Here at Kraemer Family Library we use the Library of Congress Classification System (call numbers) to organize our collections. Each item in the library collection has a unique call number.

In the Library Catalog the call number for an item is written horizontally. On the shelves, the call number will usually appear vertically on the spine of each book. See the image below. In either case the call number is read the same way.


call number on spine of book








Read the top line of the call number in alphabetical order.

    A, B, BF, D, DE, F

Read the second line numerically.

    2253 2260.87, 2395, 2395.63

The third line has a letter and a number. Read the letter alphabetically. Read the number as a DECIMAL.

    C53=.53, C641=.641, C65=.65

The last line is the year the item was published. Read in chronological order.



The following call numbers are in correct order (along with an explanation of why):






















Double letter after single
HD after HC
9000.6 > 40 9005 > 9000.6 F .66 > F.6582 U after F in alphabet